Verse > Anthologies > William Stanley Braithwaite, ed. > The Book of Elizabethan Verse
William Stanley Braithwaite, ed.  The Book of Elizabethan Verse.  1907.
The Happy Countryman
By Nicholas Breton (1545–1626)
WHO can live in heart so glad
As the merry country lad?
Who upon a fair green balk
May at pleasure sit and walk,
And amid the azure skies        5
See the morning sun arise,—
While he hears in every spring
How the birds do chirp and sing:
Or before the hounds in cry
See the hare go stealing by:        10
Or along the shallow brook,
Angling with a baited hook,
See the fishes leap and play
In a blessèd sunny day:
Or to hear the partridge call,        15
Till she have her covey all:
Or to see the subtle fox,
How the villain plies the box:
After feeding on his prey,
How he closely sneaks away,        20
Through the hedge and down the furrow
Till he gets into his burrow:
Then the bee to gather honey,
And the little black-haired coney,
On a bank for sunny place,        25
With her forefeet wash her face:
Are not these, with thousands moe
Than the courts of kings do know,
The true pleasing spirit’s sights
That may breed true love’s delights?        30
But with all this happiness,
To behold that Shepherdess,
To whose eyes all shepherds yield
All the fairest of the field,
—Fair Aglaia, in whose face        35
Lives the shepherd’s highest grace;
For whose sake I say and swear,
By the passions that I bear,
Had I got a kingly grace,
I would leave my kingly place        40
And in heart be truly glad
To become a country lad;
Hard to lie, and go full bare,
And to feed on hungry fare,
So I might but live to be        45
Where I might but sit to see
Once a day, or all day long,
The sweet subject of my song:
In Aglaia’s only eyes
All my worldly paradise.        50

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